Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Writing Fairy Makes a Return

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This is the feeling that only creatives know. This feeling of having just poured your entire self onto a page so that there’s virtually nothing left of the mind.
After several weeks, nay almost two months, of not writing the travel book I’ve been at it again. Some three hours worth. Now I’m spent. It’s like jet lag, just of the mental pose. It’s why writing is always better than sex– afterglow of the former lasts for hours, sometimes days. Sex fades, no matter how good it is.
Writing like this makes everything surrounding you feel surreal. It’s as if writing puts you in a mindset of some drug because of which all else feels cottony, untouchable, mute, colorless. It also makes you want to crawl into bed for a heavy snorefest afterward.
The writing fairy has returned. Let’s just hope her cameo becomes a starring role to complete this tome.

Strolling through San Borja, Lima, Peru

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A wanderly stroll through my neighborhood in Lima, Peru gently reveals elements of urban planning. For a new visitor to Peru, San Borja, my upper-middle-class district, the grid system facilitates walking the dog, jaunting to the supermarket a couple blocks southwest, or trotting to the plethora of pharmacies just a couple blocks straight ahead.  Crosswalks don’t put a major crimp in your pace as traffic is consistent and light. Narrow pedestrian alleyways offer intriguing landscaped vistas and quicken the arrival to your destination.
Pedestrian alleyways offer privacy yet also a sense of community.
Greenery dresses almost every Peruvian building.

Green means more than plantlife, as we see here with two shades of green on buildings. 

Peruvians maximize space, especially for parking.

 

Peruvians may not recycle bottles and plastics much, but they do believe in green. Buildings typically feature a veranda, a landscaped rooftop, and plant-bedecked front courtyards. Rather than large slabs of concrete, which attracts the city-heat- island effect, driveways are often mere strips of concrete or stone that allow for grass to breathe through.
Letting the grass grow through in parking spots.

Safety measures echo South Africa.
Images of South Africa come to mind when street-side building facades reveal large barbed metal guards, topped with electrical wiring. However, safety isn’t absent. Traffic lights along well maintained sidewalks dot wide two-lane streets, and manned guard stands outside of expensive condo buildings pepper the streets.
After all, even a dog can take a siesta from his watch before his master’s house.
Whether it’s the smell of jasmine that tickles the olfactory senses or the palette of home colors that caresses the eyes, this neighborhood offers peace from my deadlines and joy in learning a new culture.

Three Happiness

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Some things that make me happy: autonomy to catch a cab by myself and tell the driver, in Spanish (or the local language of wherever I am), where I want to go and to find my way around the neighborhood to a bodega and supermarket; converse with my roommate and a member of my host family about places we’ve visited around the world; finishing an in-depth article that’s taken scores of hours.
Last night I visited a neighborhood I’ve never encountered, the so-called bohemian barrio of Barranco. We met on the square and walked to Javier, an oceanfront restaurant. There I met up with an English woman, freelance writer, and a new Peruvian friend for maracuyas sours (a cocktail of the local alcohol called pisco and passionfruit juice).We discussed surfing through sewage here in Lima, entertaining cultural differences between Westerns and Indonesians, whale watching on a boat from Boston to Canada, and religious manipulation attempts by Indians. We sat on the top floor of the restaurant, a terrace encumbered by no architecture to allow us to hear and see the smiling waves hit the Pacific shore. A slight breeze blew, causing us to need a light jacket, and recorded local music played softly in the background. A good time had by all. I wanted it to continue but my friends are early risers– surfing and whale watching, of course, so I returned home and read Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt.
At the bodega today I located a trial-sized tube of toothpaste, much needed since I ran out today. Why not buy a regular sized tube? One awaits me in a package I sent myself to Peru whilst still in Ohio. Evidently a box of books, clothes, and toiletries are something to hold up in Peruvian customs.
Then I made my way to the supermarket. Multiple bottles of Coke Zero, veggie snacks, and beer were called for. At the cashier I encountered a problem. Something about one of the two beers was evidently not going home with me. Reasons remain unknown. The cashier has no English and spoke Spanish so rapidly that I must have looked at her like she had seven heads. Making the request of ‘Despacio’ (slow), when trying to speak Spanish has repeatedly proven ineffective; they continue to speak a million miles per hour. Even when I returned home and asked my host mother about why such a thing would happen, she thought it ‘raro’ (strange).
Anyway, my listening is improving, though the previous example doesn’t indicate that. When speaking with the host family I’m forced to speak and hear Spanish. It’s a splendid means of indoctrination, one I’m truly enjoying. The Spanish is indeed getting deep enough for me to partially dream and think, and even sing American songs, in it. In fact, my daily use of it has squeezed the Hindi and Chinese words out of my daily vocab.
Then there was the completion of the article. I’ve spoken to some 20 people from coast to coast of Los Estados Unidos over the course of three weeks. The information was difficult to contain in 2,000 words but at last, I succeeded. There is no feeling like completing an in-depth article and sending off an invoice. Admittedly it put a little swagger in my step.
Finally having a proper conversation with my young American male roommate also lifted the day. It had occurred to me over the past two days that he was intimidated by me. It actually stirred memories of my earliest moments with Nicolas, the love of my life who’s seven years younger than me. I’m not exactly sure what caused him to commence speaking in full sentences and for a long period with me, but I’m enjoying it. We do, after all, share a bathroom! Maybe I’ll share my sole beer with him tonight….